Why Buildings = People

Gold Run CondominiumMy youngest returned to college today. He’s local, so we both drove over to the apartment he’s renting with a friend. I waited on the sidewalk as he went up the three steps into the building, then up the flight of stairs to his second floor apartment. He inspected the rooms, and then came back outside with the lease and the landlady. On the sidewalk, I signed the lease and wrote her a check for the first month’s rent and the security deposit. None of us acknowledged the lack of access verbally.

As I drove away, leaving him to unload the truck, I realized that lack of access to buildings is lack of access to the people who live, play and work in them. I’ve already lost that access to my siblings, all of whom live in inaccessible homes. Now that my children are growing up and out of our house, what are the chances that I will ever be able to spend time with them in any of the apartments or houses they will inhabit in the future?

Accessible, or even visitable, housing stock is an incredibly rare commodity. If one of my able-bodied children were to rent an accessible house or apartment, would she be taking it from someone who needs accessibility every day? Yes.

It’s a different situation, of course, if you have money and you own the property you live in. Then you can build or modify for accessibility. But in the current economy, I somehow can’t see my kids being able to do anything like that anytime soon.

On a completely different note, it’s best to Just Say No to driving around a college town the week the students move in.



  1. weeble

    Never thought about that. Not being able to visit my daughter or son’s dorm room makes me sad. My parent’s home is fairly accessible (after the initial 3 steps). My sister’s house is inaccessible. Everything is always held at my house since my family is all local.

    Sorry you couldn’t see your youngest’s appt. Especially since you’re the one writing the cheque >:(

  2. Jennifer Fitz

    People just don’t get it. My beloved was lamenting that a sporting group he wanted to belong to has an arbitrary equipment rule that makes it virtually impossible for him (6’5″) to compete. When he talks to people about it, they agree the rule should be changed, but no one does anything, because it’s really not their problem. They can play, no time for getting into a big push to change the rules for one person.

    So, meanwhile, we go to plan an overhaul to our backyard. The spouse immediately proposes a multi-level *stepped* thing. In our flat yard. I repeat, “Darling, it is very important to me that we keep our house accessible.”

    “But who comes over here who uses a wheelchair?”

    “Well, there’s Mr. H. And YOUR WIFE! ME!” Uh, let’s see . . . used one in the past, neurolgical condition that causes weakness in the legs . . . I suspect this could be important to us one day, darling.

    But it just isn’t on the radar. Falls in the ‘someone else’s problem’ field. Just dumb. Deeply dumb.

  3. Katja (Post author)

    But eventually, living with someone who uses a wheelchair, you do start to get it.

  4. Jennifer Fitz

    LOL. It is, of course, my secret desire to indoctrinate the man purely with my brilliant rhetoric, and not through a radical lifestyle change. As if I get to choose, hehe.

  5. Katja (Post author)

    And I’m sure you will (indoctrinate him).


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